The grand bargain of advanced capitalism is that businesses are encouraged to prosper in pursuit of profits while, at the same time, government, through safeguards and regulations, is empowered to protect people from the excesses of the market.
Many of the great public policy advances of the past century can be understood in these terms. Child labor laws, building codes, anti-trust laws, many public health measures, workplace safety and wage laws, labor rights, environmental and consumer protections, food and drug safety, and many others are properly understood as public actions that limit business behavior in order to strike a fairer balance between the needs of business and the needs of people and the environment. Business typically opposes reform; yet the public interest can ultimately prevail.
Last year about this time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce began a focused campaign to challenge the ability of the U.S. government to maintain that balance. Despite the fact that financial deregulation was a major factor in the worldwide economic collapse, the Chamber, emboldened by Republican control of the House of Representatives, spun a narrative that the dismal employment rate was attributable to excessive regulation.